The Chattanooga Lady Mocs softball team (7-7) continues play this weekend as it travels to Macon, Ga. to participate in the Mercer University Bear Classic Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The four-team tournament is the fourth tournament of the season for Chattanooga. The Bear Classic also features a round-robin style bracket and championship final.
While in Macon, the Lady Mocs take on Central Arkansas, Northern Kentucky and the hosting Bears. Every team in the tournament is guaranteed five games.
Seeds will be decided based on each of the teams' first three games before the No. 1 seed is pinned against the No. 4 seed and No. 3 takes on No. 2 Saturday afternoon. A championship and consolation game will be played Sunday afternoon.
The Lady Mocs are 7-7 on the season, going 3-2 over the weekend in the Frost Classic. Chattanooga was able to claim wins over Lipscomb, Eastern Kentucky and Miami-Ohio, but UTC fell in back-to-back games Saturday and Sunday to Boston College and Missouri State. The Lady Mocs look to get back on track this weekend, in search of a tournament trophy.
Chattanooga kicks off the tournament in a matchup with the Central Arkansas Bears (11-5). Friday serves as the first meeting between the two programs. The Bears enter the tournament riding a six-game winning streak with notable wins over Northern Iowa, Belmont, Ole Miss and Ball State. Central Arkansas' five losses came at the hands of South Alabama, Jackson State, Valparaiso and Western Illinois. Chattanooga and Central Arkansas face off at 11 a.m.
Central Arkansas' offense is led by Sam Forrest, batting .450 with a team-best 27 hits on the season. The freshman outfielder has gapped 9 doubles and mashed one home run, thus far. She has also stole two bases in two attempts.
Pitcher Kelsie Armstrong paces the staff with a 1.80 ERA and a 7-4 record. Starting 10 games, the senior has completed nine games and tossed three shutouts. The ace has also recorded one save in 12 appearances. She is holding opponents to a .204 batting average.
The Lady Mocs continue play at 1:15 p.m. as they are scheduled to host Northern Kentucky (3-6) as the designated home team. It will be the first meeting between the two programs as NKU joins the Division I rankings for the 2013 season. Since moving up, the Norse has claimed wins over Toledo, North Carolina Central and Niagara- all coming at the Frost Classic in Chattanooga, Tenn. just last weekend.
The bats are led by Kaylin Steinmetz, the Norse sophomore outfielder. Steinmetz bats .316 in 19 at-bats, collecting six hits and five runs driven in. She has also shown power, homering twice and doubling twice. Also keep an eye out for Michelle Carson and Katelyn Roy, as both hitters have started all nine games for NKU and each have over five hits with a home run.
Pitcher Kelley Benhase leads the pen with a 3-2 record and 2.21 ERA. The sophomore has started four games while appearing in seven, tossing three complete games. Benhase holds opponents to a .230 batting average.
Chattanooga wraps up round-robin play Saturday at 12:15 p.m. as it faces the Mercer Bears (9-7). Mercer and Chattanooga have a storied history, meeting 25 times since the formation of the Lady Mocs in 1994. UTC commands the upperhand with a 17-8 record, winnings their last meeting 9-1 in Clearwater, Fla. in the 2007 season.
McKenzie Woody paces the offense with a .456 batting average, amassing 26 hits, a double and two triples. The junior has driven in seven runs while scoring 12. The outfielder's 31 total bases leads the team and she is also 7-for-11 in stolen base attempts.
Pitcher Kerri Nidiffer leads the staff with a 2.24 ERA and a 5-5 record while Julia Rice is 4-1 with a 3.16 ERA. The two arms have combined to toss six complete games plus striking out 35 batters.
After the Mercer Invitational, the Lady Mocs travel to Clearwater, Fla. March 8-10 to compete in the USF Under Armour Tournament hosted by the University of South Florida. While in Florida, Chattanooga will take on Toledo, Wagner, Villanove, Loyola Marymount and Temple.
The Lady Mocs will stay in Clearwater two more days to play Boston University and Quinnipiac before traveling to Greenville, S.C., to open Southern Conference play against Furman.
All games will be available via live stats and play-by-play audio will be provided free through MocsVision.